Palo Alto taps veteran to lead emergency-preparedness effort

Officer Kenneth Dueker chosen to direct city's new Office of Emergency Services

After months of searching, Palo Alto officials Wednesday tapped a veteran of the Police Department and a well-known figure to the city's robust coalition of emergency-preparedness volunteers to head the fledgling Office of Emergency Services.

Dueker, a genial, tech-savvy officer who has been serving as an interim director of the new department, beat out more than 50 other candidates and six other finalists for the $125,000 a year job, according to an announcement from City Manager James Keene.

Dueker has been active in the Citizen Corps Council (a coalition of businesses, agencies and cities working together on disaster preparation) and led various initiatives relating to emergency preparedness. These include the deployment of the mobile "Emergency Operations Center" and the recent citywide Safety Fair and the Quakeville camp-out exercises.

Annette Glanckopf, a member of the Citizen Corps Council and also the panel that interviewed the finalists, praised the appointment, citing Dueker's intelligence, organization skills and knowledge of Palo Alto.

"The man is definitely a visionary, and I think we wouldn't have gotten as far as we have in our efforts if it hadn't been for some of the thoughts and the vision that Ken has," she said. "He is a great team builder, and he is respected all over the city and the county."

Dueker's new position is the latest stage in a distinguished police career that has seen him rise from a reserve police officer to a patrolman and a detective before becoming involved full-time in disaster planning and community preparedness. Glanckopf credited him with bringing structure to the Citizen Corps Council and for bringing technical savvy to disaster preparedness -- a subject that remains one of the City Council's official priorities.

"He's been a perfect example of someone who can break down silos and get people to work together," Glanckopf said.

Dueker's experiences in emergency preparedness go well beyond Palo Alto and law enforcement. In 2003, he founded the start-up company PowerFlare Corporation, which designs eco-friendly LED lights. He remains on the company's board of directors. He has also served as a chief operating officer for the Santa Clara-based fiber-optics company C Speed Corporation. Dueker also worked in the early 1990s as a corporate emergency planner for the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO). According to the city's announcement, he worked at ARCO's Los Angeles headquarters and gained experience during the 1994 earthquake in Northridge.

Dueker holds a bachelor's degree from Pomona College, a law degree from Harvard University, various emergency-management certifications and an amateur radio license.

Keene selected Dueker after a interview process featuring two interview panels that included emergency-operations professionals, top police and fire staff, neighborhood leaders and department heads from City Hall. After the two panels provided their recommendations, Keene interviewed the five finalists and chose Dueker.

"I am honored to have this role to improve the resilience of our City through our stakeholders, such as the neighborhoods, our businesses, Stanford University, and others in our community," Dueker said in a statement. "In a major disaster, we will all benefit from the investment in the relationships and structures that we are creating."

Dueker's appointment is the most significant step in the city's disaster-preparedness effort since the council decided last summer to create the Office of Emergency Services. The city has traditionally coordinated its emergency response and preparedness by activating an "Emergency Operations Center" in the City Hall basement and having representatives from various departments meet there during major events to plan the city's response.

The new office was created to improve coordination between city departments and support the various volunteer groups that have been working on preparing the city for emergencies. Glanckopf and other volunteers have previously characterized the city's grassroots-based operation as an orchestra without a conductor. Dueker will be expected to fill this role.

Earlier this year, the city commissioned an independent study to assess the city's emergency-preparedness operation. The study, by the group Urban Resilience Policy, highlighted a number of deficiencies and concluded that under the previous system the city's Office of Emergency Services "does not have the authority to overcome planning and preparedness deficiencies."

The City Council is scheduled to approve Dueker's contract, which includes the $125,000 salary, on Monday (Dec. 12). If the contract is approved as expected, he would begin his new position the following day.

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2 people like this
Posted by Ronna Devincenzi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2011 at 11:27 am

This is a wise decision. Officer Dueker has had his finger on the pulse of Emergency Preparedness for the past few years. He works well with everyone, keeping them in *communication*, linking city departments with citizen groups & preparing them to work together.

The Golden Guardian and Silver Sentinel exercises worked so well, due to his diligent oversight, leadership & teaching skills, his creativity and his ability to be a team player, and to remain calm under stress. He is a PROVEN and successful leader.

Congratulations, kudos and thanks to everyone involved with making this excellent decision. Living in California, E-Prep is a must, and a responsible, qualified and personable person must be in the lead. Officer Dueker is that person. Palo Alto is in good hands.

2 people like this
Posted by Bernard Leitner
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 8, 2011 at 11:34 am

Congratulations Officer Dueker, a good choice for the job.

Like this comment
Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 8, 2011 at 11:53 am

Great progress.

Now, let's see if we can share this resource on a regional basis to defray some of the cost, as Emergency Preparedness is a regional need and should be addressed on a regional basis.

Surely each Penninsula City won't burden taxpayers with a $125,000 (plus benefits) resource when we all share the same need. We cannot accept anything less than a City-wide vision that always pursues regional cooperation to maximize service and minimize cost. (As a reminder, we still have a lot of potholes and infrastructure to update as essential priorities.)

Again, great progress, but we must include a regional vision in our future.

Tim Gray

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2011 at 11:57 am

Normally I am not in favor of our City inventing new positions that cost us huge amounts of money for unquantifiable benefit.

But, this is an exception and I think it is a good move forward.

Looking back on the day our City was without power for about 12 hours shows that someone who is in place to take over managing an emergency makes sense. Earthquakes are not the only fear, but any emergency which affects a sizeable chunk of Palo Alto and a sizeable number of residents, can be dealt with more efficiently if there is a point person ready to take charge. From an accident on the grade crossings or majory road artery to large power outages or property fires, it is good to know that the City will be able to inform us and keep us abreast with these unforeseen events.

Thank you.

2 people like this
Posted by Mark
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 8, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Ken is a great guy; I am extremely happy he has been selected for this position.

Like this comment
Posted by annoyed
a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Get your facts right Daily. Ken Dueker never became a regular officer and most certainly was never a detective. He was a reserve.....period. Probably a good choice for this job but hopefully his application didn't list those positions on his resume.

Like this comment
Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2011 at 4:37 pm

"Annoyed", why are you asking the Daily to get its facts right when this is a forum about a Palo Alto Weekly article that got its facts from City Manager Jim Keene's press release: Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by annoyed
a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2011 at 6:18 pm

"Daily", "weekly' it doesn't matter. His release says he worked as a reserve in the field services and detective division as a reserve. Big difference. He was never a full time, sworn police officer

Like this comment
Posted by apbinfo
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Dec 13, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Disaster Aftermath Bullies Foiled
Behind the scenes there is a calamity well underway. No, not a fire, earthquake, hurricane or some other catastrophe, but something much less noticeable: bullies taking advantage of disaster survivors when they are most vulnerable. Today the corporate/individual imbalance is increasingly the issue of the economic day. One of the logical steps the 99% can take in their financial future, is knowing just what it is they should financially expect from the 1% in case of a disaster. A deal's a deal.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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